Beau here. Caleb and I headed downtown again to walk the streets and engage with our homeless neighbors. Michael Fleming and his boys partnered with us again.
We started our preparations earlier this week as I was very encouraged by Caleb's heart. Last time we brought gallon zip-loc bags filled with water, perishable items, etc. This time, Caleb wanted to provide that and much more., so he used his savings to create some other creative bags. First, he, Natalie, and Hannah prepared some gallon bags of toiletries - comb, toothbrush, chap stick, a Bible, umbrella, socks, etc. Also, we bought some McDonald's gift certificates to hand out. Finally, Caleb wanted to get in the Christmas spirit, so he got some small stockings and filled each with a Christmas gospel track, a Slim Jim, gum, chao stick, and a candy cane. We also bought some blankets to distribute since it is cold out these days.
So we headed downtown and parked near the McDonald's. We didn't walk 50 yards before we met Jeffrey. Jeffrey got out of jail in
We then headed to the
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going." Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?" Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him."
We felt like we were at church! We spent some time all hangin together and provided James with some food, toiletries, McD's money, etc.
It was freezing this morning and misty raining, so there weren't a lot of folks on the street. We walked for about 30 minutes after this without seeing any of our homeless neighbors. Michael and I had some great opportunities to teach our kids from Matthew 10:39 and Matthew 20:28. We focused on "being served versus serving." We talked about why we do what we do. As Michael says it "We don’t do this in order to make people Christians but we give and serve sacrificially because we are Christians." We pray our kids would find what we do to be "normative Christianity" when we live in a era of dead churches where people consider serving others to somehow be "heroic."
We then started walking towards McDonald's praying that we would find someone to host for a late breakfast. Along the way, we saw an odd scene. In a large empty parking lot, we saw an old minivan with some 18-22 year old kids in it. One of their friends was jogging back to the car from the nearby intersection. As he got in the back of the minivan, he lit up his crack! These foolish kids had gone to buy crack. They quickly drove off. Michael prayed God would protect them from their own foolishness.
So we keep walking toward McDonald's, and we ran into Frank! Remember him from last month? Back then he was strung out on crack, and we had brought him to a halfway house rehab center. I had found out three weeks ago that Frank left the house (presumably because he wanted crack more than he wanted to get healthy), so we have been praying that we would find him. Right when he saw us he quickly came to see us. He was soaked from sleeping in the rain last night. We went to McDonald's to hang with him, get him some hot coffee, and catch up. He looked much better than last month, so we asked about the crack. He said he has laid off of it recently, so he only does it "every once in a while." He said it is hard to do crack when it is so cold, so I told him I would pray for a long winter :) After catching up for a while, we got the names of some of his family members. We are going to try finding them to see if they are willing to take Frank in. I hope we find them, and I hope Frank humbles himself to accept help. Frank told us how he really needed socks and a blanket since his were soaked. As I mentioned earlier, we brought some (which he couldn't see), so we got to be God's arms and legs in providing that for Frank. As we were chatting with Frank, 1 John 3:17-18 really started ringing in my mind. It says "But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth." Frank had no gloves, a wet shirt, etc, and I have a drawer full of shirts and a couple pair of gloves. How could the love of God abide in me if I walked away with my abundance while Frank sat there in 35 degree weather with a wet shirt and no gloves? Now that theology will get you uncomfortable! Anyway, by the time we left, I no longer owned my gloves or my shirt, and we promised Frank we would come find him at McDonald's or behind the Library (where he sleeps). We walked to the car to head out.
So as we get in the car, a guy named Jeff comes and asks us for money for the bus. He just got out of prison across the street. He spent one night in prison to get some warrants and tickets forgiven. We asked where he was headed, and then we offered to bring him there ourselves instead of giving him money. We dropped him off at "his cousins" but Michael and I got the sense we might have dropped him off at a place where he would be up to no good.
After all the adventure, we headed to South Dallas, so I could show Michael and the boys around Cornerstone, a church my family is trying to partner with a bit. They are really trying to be salt and light in a really dark part of the city. Anyway, our family and the Flemings are going to be down there next week for Christmas, so I wanted to give them the lay of the land and hopefully hook up with Chris, the pastor. Well, I lead everyone into the small church, and the first thing I see is a casket with a dead man in it. This was Caleb's first experience with death, a casket, etc, so that made for something unexpected for the day. We found Pastor Chris who shared with us the story of Claude, the deceased. There is a sweet former drug addict at Cornerstone named Gladys who has a ministry reaching those enslaved to addiction on the streets, and she met Claude ten years ago. He accepted Christ and changed his addiction from drugs to Jesus. Today we can celebrate the new eternal home Claude has with our Maker.
We then picked up lunch and headed home. We will go back downtown next month as we try to make this a monthly effort. I am so encouraged by these young boys as they develop a heart for their neighbors.